A railroad official says a Grinnell College student is “very lucky” to be alive after being struck by a train Monday. Mick Burkart, chief operating officer with Iowa Interstate Railroad, says the accident occurred shortly after 4:30 p.m. near Third Avenue and Spring Street in Grinnell.

“It seems three young girls were trying to race the train and cross in front of it on foot. The third one tripped or slipped and fell between the rails,” Burkart said. “She attempted to get up and was struck by the locomotive and thrown clear of the track.” The student, 20-year-old Anika Manzoor, was taken to University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City. Her injuries were only described as “not life-threatening.”

Burkhart believes Manzoor was likely struck by the locomotive’s pilot or snow plow. “That (plow) is curved and so it’s very possible she was caught by that and kind of thrown – much like a pile of snow would have been,” Burkhart said. The train was traveling at 21 miles per hour.

Burkhart said it’s rare for people on foot to successfully beat a train, so Manzoor is lucky to have survived the impact. “When you’re looking at 400,000 plus pounds of moving steel, at 21 miles per hour, against the human body…usually the human is the loser,” Burkhart said.

Grinnell College officials say Manzoor is from Bethesda, Maryland.